While, of course, everyone would prefer for the delivery of their baby to happen naturally, quickly and with no complications, it rarely ever happens that way. Around 21% of all babies are delivered via C-section – a figure which is actually far higher than it was at the turn of the century – meaning many women leave hospital each year not just their baby, but a scar, aches and pains and a longer recovery ahead of them.
It’s only natural that you may have some questions following your C-section that don’t quite merit a call to your doctor, but that you’d still like some answers for. We’ll attempt to answer some of those questions here.
Why does my C-section scar still itch?
C-section scar itching is incredibly common and is due to the fact that the nerves in the tummy area were damaged by the incision, which makes them incredibly sensitive. This is also a sign that the nerves and the tissue around them are healing, so don’t worry if you feel itchy.
However, resist the urge to scratch them, no matter how itchy they may get! You may feel numb around this area and be unaware of how hard you are scratching, meaning you may hurt yourself or even damage the scar and cause an infection which, at the very least, will slow your recovery hugely.
What helps with C-section scar itching?
If you are looking to find a cream that can be applied to your scar and stop all itching altogether, then you may be disappointed. There are very few such products on the market, and doctors recommend you do not interfere with your C-section scar at all.
As discussed, the itching you feel is just a sign of your skin healing around the scar, so the best thing you can do in order to make it better is to promote that healing process so that it doesn’t need to go on for quite so long. To do this, it’s best to raise and maintain the health of your skin with a nutrient rich diet and plenty of water.
You should also be sure that you are keeping the scar clean to reduce the risk of inflammation or infection and avoid wearing clothes in any fabric which may further aggravate the problem, such as anything with a rough abrasive fabric.
If you really do need something to soothe the itch, then the best thing to use is an ice pack, held over the area for five to ten minutes.
How do I know if my C-section scar is infected?
It’s important to keep a close eye on your scar in the months following a C-section, so that if you spot any of the signs of infection, you can seek treatment immediately before the effects worsen.
Visible signs that your scar may have become infected are redness and swelling around the area, as well as the appearance of pus or discharge around the area. You may also feel severe abdominal pain, pain around the scar itself and painful urination, as well as experiencing a high fever and heavy vaginal bleeding.
C-section wound infections can come with some heavy complications, so make sure you are keeping your scar clean, not allowing anything to irritate the area and seek immediate advice if you experience any symptoms of an infection.
Will my C-section bulge go away?
All new mothers will notice a change in the shape of their stomachs post-delivery, but C-sections often result in a more prominent ‘pooch’ due to placement of their incision. Unfortunately, getting rid of this isn’t a quick or easy process, especially given that C-sections require a much longer recovery time regardless.
The best route to go down in order to try and eliminate that C-section bulge is to keep a close eye on your diet and exercise. You must wait until you’ve had the okay from your doctor to begin even a light exercise program, as you could be risking injury otherwise, but once you’ve had the go-ahead, there are plenty of things you can do.
Light abdominal exercises are the most effective thing to add to your post-baby workout, but you should be sure you aren’t just going straight in and doing these in the exact same way that you would have done before your pregnancy – many exercises are modified for new mothers, so make sure you check online exactly how you should perform them in order for them to be both safe and effective.
You should also try to avoid eating out of boredom or comfort during the day, and instead stick to regular mealtimes and ‘clean’, unprocessed foods. Over-indulging on foods which are high in carbohydrates is the worst mistake you can make when trying to tone up this particular area, so avoid foods such as pizza, pasta and bread if you can.
Remember, trying to tone your post-pregnancy stomach is a long and arduous process anyway, but that process is extended even further for mothers who have delivered their babies via C-section. Don’t put pressure on yourself to try and do too much too quickly, and instead bring these changes into your lifestyle little by little – Rome wasn’t built in a day.
How long does it take for a C-section to heal internally?
It isn’t just the external healing that new mothers need to worry about after a C-section, it’s the internal healing too.
The initial internal recovery of the uterus and abdominal wall should occur within the first four to six weeks after the birth of your baby, but every woman is different. If you faced any complications during your C-section, this recovery time could be longer. It’s always best to commit fully to your recovery and attempt to follow all of your doctor’s advice, with the main recovery mantra usually being to get some rest.
It’s also normal to see a lot of bleeding post-partum, sometimes quite heavily for up to two weeks after the birth. You may continue to experience light bleeding up until six weeks afterwards.
If you are ever in doubt or believe there has been a complication with your recovery, always contact your doctor immediately.
What to Do and What to Avoid After Your C-Section
It’s important that you’re very careful when recovering from a C-section not to do anything that could cause any complications within those vital first six weeks. Make sure that you follow your doctor’s advice to the letter, as the weeks after a C-section can be a very delicate time for your body.
Generally, you will be told to get plenty of rest and avoid being on your feet for too long within the first few days after giving birth. Of course, this is difficult following the birth of a baby, but is for the best if you want to give your body the best chance of recovering as quickly as possible.
There are also a number of activities that you need to avoid in the following weeks – having sex, taking a bath, doing any form of heavier exercise and driving are just a few of these. You must also be careful not to lift anything heavier than your baby, as this may place a strain on your stomach and interfere with your stitches, and could lead to re-opening your wound.
Try to stay mobile in a way that doesn’t put too much pressure on your body, such as going for light walks.
Don’t return to these other activities until you feel completely safe to do so and only if they do not cause you any discomfort. It’s also always best to wait for the go ahead from your doctor first – again, everyone is different and some new mothers may take longer to recover from a C-section.
Overall, the weeks following your C-section are crucial to your recovery, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution rather than attempting to do too much and risking complications.
Why Does My C-section Scar Hurt Two Years Later?
If you start to notice pain around your scar a few years after your C-section, don’t worry too much right away. While you are generally fully recovered from your C-section by that point, there will only just be new nerves forming around where the incision was made, so this may be what you are feeling if you are experiencing some pain or discomfort.
This kind of pain should be consistent in the way that it feels, so if your pain starts to worsen or turn into a different kind of feeling (I.e: was a ‘pinching’ feeling that turns into a sharp pain), then you should consult your doctor immediately. However, mild pain around your scar in the years following a C-section is generally nothing to worry too much about, and should go away over time.
These are all simply guidelines for what you may or may not experience after a C-section, and if you are in any doubt, you should seek professional medical help.